I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of hearing C-word. Unfortunately, it’s not something you can just drive away. Especially you can not ignore the massive changes it has brought about. Everywhere we look, a lasting change is taking place. Whether in education, where digital classrooms once frowned upon are now becoming the new standard, or at work, where the home office is suddenly providing agility in combining work and career, not just for a very small group of employees. It has become a mass-market option for organising entire companies, offering a new, strong alternative to the office complex with seats for all employees (why shouldn’t half the space be enough in the future?). Corona feels like a fire accelerator for the digital transformation of our society and is currently regarded as the driver #1 of transformation:
The leading forces behind business transformation …
On the other hand, there is the uncertainty of people, which is particularly widespread in our Western societies. What the virus makes of our lives, a sudden uncertainty about the existence of large parts of the population, has the potential for a long lasting trauma. It is an uncertainty that attacks our needs and makes everyone on Maslow’s pyramid fall a little bit.
The fact is Covid-19 has triggered a Hyper Change not previously imaginable at this speed and has changed the value pattern of many societies forever. The massive impact on our economy and businesses is happening now. There will no longer be a time like before the pandemic.
COVID-19 has shown every organization its limits and weaknesses. In a world where a few days of hesitation can lead to an escalation of social and business disruptions, fast learning is existential in a very fast moving environment. Resilience is no longer a theoretical model. We are painfully reminded of the fragility of our old systems and processes. Now it is time to prove that our goals and values are not just empty words that last in good times but not in bad.
Facing the changed conditions does not only mean securing one’s business, the survival of individual companies. Above all, it holds the chance for new and great things. A look back shows that many changes have emerged from times of crisis, bringing forth new, strong market participants. For example, the Second World War not only produced jet engines, radar, penicillin, helicopters, pressurized aircraft cabins, artificial rubber, and much more. These products were accompanied by their commercialisation, and this crisis also triggered commercial aviation, the participation of women in the world of work and many other profound social and societal changes.
A comparison with the SARS crisis of 2002-2004 also comes to mind. Just as SARS (which was mainly confined to Asia) accelerated the introduction of digital commerce and the rise of Alibaba, COVID-19 has the same opportunity to create new players, but this time on a global basis.
Business leaders must now activate their collectives and create a narrative of hope and initiate bold actions if they are to see the pandemic as a turning point for progress, not a missed opportunity.
Business transformation is at a turning point.
“It’s not the existence of beliefs that is the problem, but what happens to us when we hold them rigidly, without examining them, when we presume the absolutely centrality of our views and become disdainful of others.”
We see two trends with regard to this enormous transformation challenge:
Until now, digital transformation has been done at the discretion and pace of the company’s leaders. Now COVID-19 sets the pace and it must be prioritized urgently.
We see that systems built primarily to maximise effectiveness and efficiency tend to collapse under stress. What will the sustainable systems of the future look like?
And what about the purpose of companies? Prior to the crisis, many CEOs, in response to global warming and other societal challenges, were deeply concerned with their own corporate purpose, multi-stakeholder capitalism and sustainability. What value, what contribution does the purpose make in this crisis?
The time has come for entrepreneurial thinking and action to set the course for sustainable economic success in the future. In general, one must now face up to the systematic analysis of the company. We need to consider how the changing needs of people, the changing society influences in our economy and markets are influencing the organisation of our companies, our processes, products and above all our brands.
For marketing, for example, there are seven topics that can be intensively addressed in order to find answers and a way out of the crisis and as a response to the new environment, new customers and increased social expectations.
1. Value Creation
Rethink your offer and consider how new incentives, e.g. through a complementary service or a new distribution channel, can make a difference and be relevant in the crisis.
Respond to the new customer needs – also with price reductions, discounts or waiver of fees and consider how you can make a special contribution to a post-Corona period.
3. Target Group
This could be a good time to refocus on your core business, the existing customers you know and need more than ever. Is there a special need of your customers that you can demonstratively suit?
Increase the relevance of your communication. Inform your customers about what your company, your brand and your employees are doing during the crisis. Information, entertainment and benefits are all powerful levers to satisfy people’s primary need to stay healthy and to cope with livelihood concerns, the need for everyday supplies and many other uncertainties that will accompany us in the coming months. Many brands are already relocating their services and offering their support in an open, honest and helpful way.
5. Advertising Expenditure
It is expected that there will be a shift in the media mix towards reaching target groups at home, including digital display, social communication, direct mail, television and streaming. What are the opportunities for you?
6. Measuring Success
What is important and what the success will look like has to be reassessed. Link gross income and profit to the cost of human resources, your image value and relationship metrics. What you do now for your customers and employees has more than ever the potential for long-term success.
Is your team set up for this situation? Can the decision-making processes continue to be organised as before? Do you need new structures, a new identity, style, atmosphere in the company to maintain the effectiveness of your organisation?
Covid-19 has triggered a Hyper Change, which we should understand as a great, unique opportunity to reposition our companies and organisations for the future. If we act quickly and courageously, we will not only ensure their survival. There are many opportunities for new market leaders.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need help prioritising the levers to be pulled or if you want to understand better what steps you could take. Feel free to include your questions or ideas in the comments or contact me directly.